One of the clichés of modern life is that we have to be ruthless, hard-bitten and tough to thrive and achieve success. Sorry if it comes as a blow to the solar plexus from a velvet glove, but that may not actually be true. It’s no bad thing to be determined. Or even driven. But building and maintaining relationships are too important to success that we can just treat others as a climbing-frame: manners matter.
I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about the difference between ‘the possible’ and ‘the desirable’. Ideas are like people: even the seemingly good ones can go bad. But one possibility I can’t make my mind up about is intriguing me. We’ve already plugged a blog posting about micro-coaching here at dontcompromise, and then there’s Twitter, sitting there free of charge and ready to be applied to something. I’m not the first to wonder if 2 + 2 = 4 or more, so to speak, but I’m not sure if that’s what’s bothering me.
In a recent post about seagull managers, we suggested those working for them might consider running away. Concerned as we are for the health of everyone at work, we have a gentler form of exercise for those managers who have avoided – or who perhaps are still looking to evolve out of – seagull management. Go for a walk. We’re thinking about more than your waistline: why not network with your own people for a change.
I recently came across one short, sharp blog post that I should (and probably will) add to our list of Crackers, but which has – as the best bits of blogging should – inspired further thought. The post was Derek Bobo’s Negative reward for positive performance – or, as Derek put it:
… when you do something great for the company or for your boss and the reward for good work is getting more crap to deal with.”
A cracker can be many things:
- A little firework that makes a shocking noise for its size
- Something generally fine and excellent (and often witty too)
- A table-top item two people can share and that contains a surprise of some kind.
We reckoned that we should come up with a new definition:
An individual blog post that fires your imagination, makes you (silently?) whoop in agreement, says something in a way that seems just right. Put it this way, the blogosphere is a big place, and even if quality control excelled itself 24/7 …
So we’ve added a new page here so we can attempt to catalogue just a few of these gems for others to hopefully find, enjoy and even share.
To give you an idea, here are summaries of just two examples:
Don’t Fall Victim to Your P-Ness: Mike Shoemakes not just making a good point about personality types, preferences and working styles, but demonstrating a real talent for the arresting headline. Just because we’ve passed judgment doesn’t mean we have P-Ness Envy issues, Mike, we just like your style …
12 Simple Ways To Impress Your Boss (And Everyone Else): considerably less brown-tongued that it might sound from it’s title, simply a great post in the ‘ways to go through life more positively and constructively’ category. There are enough people making the world a worse place, and Nate offers 12 guidelines that might just make a small but valuable difference. For which he is to be applauded.
So … got any crackers you want to share with us?
Business is often characterized by its desire for the new, whether it be in recognition that innovation is key to remaining competitive or (with a comparative shallowness that would shame a pancake) merely to present glittering new jeejaws to one of nature’s greatest magpies: us. But, to use a sentence that will make more sense to geologists and archaeologists than grammarians, this newness is older than it seems. A quotation might help to explain:
For about 94,000 of the 100,000 years of human history, people lived and organised themselves as hunter-gatherers without a centralized leadership apparatus.”
Through the centuries, mankind has been oddly obsessed with its own nature and with reviewing, reflecting on, analysing and debating what we call ‘the human condition’. Such is the complexity of our experience that we struggle even to define it, embracing as it does biology, theology and religion, geography, philosophy, sociology and an academy of other disciplines. Progress – another word whose meaning we could (and do) debate – may have impacted on human life to the extent that some of our eternal struggles are easier to address for the more fortunate of us. Yet the human condition remains – if not always acute – what we might describe as chronic. Indeed those very words echo from one online forum written in the wake of the New Orleans hurricane:
Also, I think it is stories of struggles like Tootie’s in a place like New Orleans that teach us not of how separate we are in our various experiences with pain, but how alike we are in our expressions of it. There are great moments when we are reminded that the human condition is chronic.”
British Airway’s CEO Willie Walsh’s call for staff to work for nothing certainly raises some interesting questions. For many commentators – including Polly Toynbee, Ed Davey, Ken Clarke and Ester Ranzen on the BBC’s Questiontime (watch the programme on iPlayer until 25/6/2009) – the first of these is something to the effect of “Who the **** does Willie Walsh think he is?”. The trigger for the moral indignation behind the question is understandable but – regardless of where the knee is aimed – is a knee-jerk any more helpful than any other variety? (That said, Management Today didn’t appear to be lining up to shake Mr Walsh’s hand either.)
In a world where levels of competitiveness are ever-rising under a veneer of good manners and ‘professional conduct’, you might expect the main problem with praise to be its faintness – a reluctance to offer any remark that might be seen as even potentially flattering. Keeping an ear open as you make your way through life, what you might hear just as frequently is actually false praise – the over-inflated language of PR speak where nothing is ever as simply fit for purpose as to be ‘adequate’. (Used selectively, of course, ‘adequate’ can be one of the most damning words in the language, but my focus here is on carelessly rather than precisely deployed language.)